Van to Yerevan flights set to bypass blocked borders

Van to Yerevan flights set to bypass blocked borders

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Van to Yerevan flights set to bypass blocked borders

Borajet company will carry 67 passengers at a time and the journey will take about 45 minutes between Van and Yerevan when the flights start on April 3. DHA photo

Direct flights from the Turkish city of Van to the Armenian capital Yerevan will start to operate on April 3, despite closed borders, marking the first of a kind for Turkey’s eastern cities.

The flights, approved by both Turkish and Armenian authorities, will be hosted by the private Borajet company. Passengers will be boarded on planes that can hold up to 67 passengers and the journey will take about 45 minutes. Tickets will cost around $200.

“This is a private flight and the authority that gives permission for this flight is the Directorate General of Civil Aviation,” Turkish Foreign Ministry officials said, declining any further comment.

Azerbaijani Parliament speaker Ziyafat Asgarov said it was necessary to examine the issue more thoroughly before commenting.

“One must take into account that Turkey is protecting Azerbaijan’s fair interests and has not opened its border with Armenia up to now,” he was quoted as saying by AzerNews website.

“Turkey is not going to open the border with Armenia in the future. As far as I know, this flight will be made by a private airline. In any case, we have the right to know why this has happened. I think statements will probably be made in connection with this issue [by Turkey].”

Van Trade Association head Ayhan Fidan told the Hürriyet Daily News that they expected a high demand for the planned flights. “As businessmen in Van we want to trade with Armenia, and the main cause behind these flights is trade,” Fidan said. “However we do not see the same excitement from the other side yet.”

Cultural interaction

Cultural interaction will also benefit from the flights, he added. “When the [Ahtamar] church on our island was opened, Van became an appealing touristic destination. Armenia and its diaspora have shown real interest in such cultural tourism,” he said. Fidan also said Iran was initially part of the route, but that the destination was removed by Iranian authorities in March. Flights to Armenia had previously taken off from Istanbul, Antalya and Bodrum, but the new route will not create negative competition, according to the owner of Borajet.

“I don’t think these flights will last very long. They will mostly be used by tourists. Perhaps in the summer there may be an interest coming from the diaspora too,” said Dikran Altun, the owner of Towertur which already operates flights between Istanbul and Yerevan.

In addition to air travel, bus rides from Istanbul to Yerevan are operated every week.